Biometric Technology for Border Control in the UK
IRIS & E-Passports
Contactless automated border controls are the future of travel and are now a growing part of a traveller’s experience. The high technology recognition software that enables a computer to identify you by scanning your face,eye or fingerprint quickens the process of manual checks (in most cases) and saves time and resources for both the passenger and the border control agency.
The use of biometrics (commonly described as technology to identify people by physiological characteristics) is expanding rapidly and receiving huge investment globally. Even though its conception and first commercial application was back in 1984, it only now reaching its full potential which is not surprising with traveller numbers and security threats increasing all the time. Airports have had to step up their processes to enable smoother operations and speedy travel times without impeding the immigration process and bio-metric passport validation and identification seems to be the way forward.
If you are a passport holder of the UK or a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, chances are you can breeze through the airport when you visit the UK and forget all about the chaotic long winded queues in the arrivals hall thanks to the latest biometric technology now available at most UK airports. There are currently two automated border systems available, the IRIS – Iris Recognition Immigration System and the E-Passport gates.
The IRIS system scans the unique iris part of each person’s eye and converts a photograph of this pattern into a digital code that is compared with records on a secure database. Enrolment is required for this procedure and only persons aged 18 years and over are able to register.
The E-Passport gates are sometimes preferred over the IRIS system as they do not require any form of enrolment however they too are only available to persons aged 18 years and over. The E-passport gates are a self-service alternative to the conventional border checks using 3M RTE8000 Full Page Scanner technology to recognize and compare a person’s face to the photograph recorded on the ‘chip’ in their passport.
If either of these systems rejects your identification, you will still need to see a border officer who will provide a manual check.
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